If you have been a longtime PAOC follower, do you recall the F.L.I.T.E. program of years gone by? Well, FIT4M, otherwise known as French Intensive Training for Ministry, is the PAOC’s ministry opportunity for English-speaking individuals who sense God’s call to reach francophones in Canada, but who may not be fully comfortable or fluent in the French language … yet. Tom and Val Harbour and Cal and Chrissy Krahn can relate. Each couple moved to Montreal and participated in the FIT4M program in 2019-2020. These are their stories.
Tom and Val Harbour:
Our love for the francophone people and the province of Quebec began in 2002. Through a series of God-orchestrated moments, in 2019 we put our lives and careers on hold, packed up, and moved to Montreal for a life-changing year of learning both language and culture. We were provided with tuition to attend UQÀM (University of Quebec in Montreal) and enrolled in their French as a Second Language program. We were connected to an amazing church, Église Gospelvie, that provided us with housing, internship opportunities, and friendships.
We came to learn French, but our learning went way beyond just language. We came to realize that the French language, a big part of the Québécois identity, is so important because there is a small island of French-speaking people surrounded by an ocean of English, and it continues to encroach on the island with each new generation. We learned about the relationship between the Québécois and the Catholic Church, and their subsequent great distrust of religion or God. Many Québécois are spiritual people but not religious, searching for something different from what they rejected generations ago. We also gained a better understanding of what it must feel like to be an immigrant or a minority since we were the only Canadians in our classes. The rest were immigrants from all over the world. With all that we discovered, our love for the people and culture deepened, along with our desire to develop relationships with those around us so we could be living examples of what it looks like to be an authentic Jesus follower.
Our plan from the beginning was to move to Quebec to learn language and culture and then return to our area to make intentional connections with francophone people—French Canada wherever you find it. Essentially, to be “authentic Jesus followers” without the trappings of religion. Although COVID-19 slowed our plan, our language studies continue as we connect with the people for whom God has given us such a love back in B.C.
Cal and Chrissy Krahn:
By contrast, we did our FIT4M program through a local community learning centre where we also met people from all over the world, most of them being new immigrants to Canada. Although we could not finish our course due to the pandemic, many relationships we developed during that time remain strong. Nothing stops the plans and purposes of God. He led us down a beautiful new path that we did not expect.
As many people know, the francophone world (and specifically Quebec) is one of the least reached with the gospel within the Western world. We responded to God’s call without really knowing which doors God would open. Early in the pandemic, we heard of people distributing food in downtown Montreal in partnership with Evangel Church. We quickly got on board, feeding 400-500 people a week—what an incredible opportunity to meet people and build relationships!
We regularly get to encourage, counsel, pray with, and love on those who come by. Some have lived in the area for years, with little interaction till now. Despite her health challenges, Rachel* is excited to come when able because she knows we love her, and we feel her love as well. Some are immigrants and international students who have experienced a rough year financially and relationally due to pandemic restrictions. Suresh* is from India, and he has felt helpless as his family back home have dealt with illness, but the prayer and care he receives is life-giving for him. Kamal* grew up Islamic and has many questions. We have given him a Bible and are here to answer his ongoing questions. Serge* is doing his best to care for his family after losing his job. It’s a privilege to listen, encourage, pray, and provide for his needs. (*Names have been changed for privacy.)
What a joy to walk through the doors God has been opening here in Montreal. He never ceases to amaze us. If you’re sensing His call but feeling ill-equipped, check out FIT4M. We’ll pick you up at the airport and show you around. It’s never too late to respond to God’s call—we were all in our 50s when we came to Quebec.
Four people, called in two different ways, with one focus … to love Quebec and its people—wherever they find them.
To discover more, go to https://fit4m.ca or check out the QFC Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Quebec-and-Francophone-Canada-Missional-Priority-102436395408799. You can also visit Tom and Val's blog to read more about their year in Montreal: http://blogquebecois.weebly.com.
Cal and Chrissy Krahn are urban missionaries in Montreal, Que., with Mission Canada, the national mission agency of the PAOC. Tom and Valerie Harbour are the connection pastors at Emmanuel Church in West Kelowna, B.C. To connect with FIT4M, email Gary Connors, Mission Canada’s co-ordinator for Quebec and Francophone Canada, at email@example.com.
This article appeared in the October/November/December 2021 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2021 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo: from left to right – Cal and Chrissy Krahn, and Tom and Valerie Harbour in Québec City, Que, spring 2021. Photo courtesy Cal and Chrissy Krahn and Tom and Valerie Harbour.